The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government met Tuesday evening to discuss a proposal to support socioeconomically disadvantaged CSG members, plans to provide more microwaves for students on campus and a food insecurity working group.
LSA sophomore Sam Braden advocated for a bill to support current assembly representatives financially and open up opportunities for future CSG representatives who are unable to participate due to socioeconomic barriers. CSG members currently serve on the assembly entirely pro-bono, despite the assembly’s time commitment. Braden spoke to past criticism from the community on CSG’s history of not providing financial compensation for its members.
Braden explained the bill proposes a budget for students who work 150 hours per semester on the assembly to receive CSG aid, an overestimate intended to set aside enough money for the students receiving the stipend, who would then be paid hourly.
“That number is a very rough estimate, and, therefore, I’m open to go to a lower number, but it depends mostly on a member’s role and responsibility within the council,” Braden said.
Concern regarding the assembly’s extensive time commitment prompted the resolution’s initial drafting. Engineering sophomore Carla Voigt co-authored the bill with the intention is to offer University students the ability to participate in student government who are restricted due to financial reasons through a regular payment program.
“Our solution to this is to have financial aid-eligible people get a kind of stipend that would be provided to CSG, a fund that we would create and set aside,” Voigt said. “They would get that as compensation to account for the fact that they can’t get a job because they are a part of CSG.”
The payment’s status as a stipend indicates the University cannot subtract that compensation from a student’s pre-existing financial aid package. Braden and Voight are also requesting an hourly stipend to be provided by CSG funding to representatives who are Pell Grant recipients or work-study eligible.
Ben Gerstein, Ford junior and CSG president, opened up announcements from the assembly’s executive branch with a statement on CSG’s ongoing plans to provide more microwaves for students to use on campus. They said they are working with the University Unions to add one in the Michigan League and in the new Union.
“We’re currently working with the Union staff to get microwaves on campus,” said Gerstein. “They’re an integral part of food insecurity, and it allows students to bring meals from home and heat them up at on-campus buildings.”
Gerstein and other council members are interested in establishing a food insecurity working group to closely advise and collaborate with Michigan’s dining halls and food pantries.
“We’re working on addressing the transportation issues with food insecurity,” said Gerstein. “We simply don’t have affordable groceries on campus, so we’re addressing those accessibility issues.”
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the types of students eligible to receive compensation under CSG’s proposed bill.